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  • Alex1444 Alex1444 Aug 5, 2003 11:41 PM Flag

    Carly Fiorina interview with Forbe's

    Carly the visionary, lol. Did Forbes tell you what Carly's background is, that she has come to be able to "know all and tell all" in the technology sector? She's a Medieval History and Philosophy major, with an MBA in marketing from a 3rd rate B-school, and a "fast track" meaningless additional credential from MIT's B-school. Does she have a degree in engineering? No. Has she worked in product design, or have much of a clue as to how the stuff works? No. Her thing is marketing, which to her evidently has something to do with passing out flowers and baloons, redesigning company logos to make them banal (e.g. Lucent's "sloppy circle", HP's "invent"), and getting "sales" via undercutting the competition to the point of losing money, or via financing those sales yourself (i.e. give the stuff away free, in exchange for i.o.u.s that might never be redeemable).

    Can anyone point to one lasting business success that Carly has ever had, while at AT&T, Lucent, or HP? Can anyone identify why Carly is actually qualified to be CEO of HP? Every time I've asked that question in the past, I've either gotten no answer, or answers such as "she wouldn't have been hired if she weren't great". But no one actually can identify why Carly has this job. Even at AT&T, she evidently didn't start moving up career-wise until she caught the eye (romantically) of HP's highly placed executive Frank Fiorina. Now whether Frank actually helped move her up the ladder in ways other than giving her advice about how to do it, one will never know. But to me it says that Carly is just a 3rd rate history-philosophy major, who got lucky by marrying a top executive at a company where promotions seem to be based on "pull" rather than ability and track-record. Even Carly's "success" at Lucent turned out to be ephemeral, as that company collapsed shortly after she departed. To my thinking, the "success" at Lucent was never real in the first place.

    So now Carly brings that background to HP, and she's quoted in Forbes as some kind of sage prognosticator. What a laugh. She's basically "Chauncey Gardner" of Being There, someone with very little real-world knowledge who gets taken seriously by an adoring press. My guess is that HP's receptionists know as much about the future of tech as Carly does. Maybe more. Those who take Carly's prognostications seriously are setting themselves up for major disappointment. You've got to realize that Carly sees being a CEO as a "performance", as in an act - she's said so herself (used that exact word: performance). So she seemingly "acts" like she knows what she's talking about, as part of that "performance". I don't buy into her "act". Just my opinions.

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    • "Can anyone point to one lasting business success that Carly has ever had,..."

      Sure...she beat the pants off an anti-merger coalition of WH+other family interests and whiny employees (who would be denied their sinecure in a company that would have to enter the real world) and pointed the company into the future. She won that battle and is now executing a plan that is receiving generally favorable review in the financial press.

      Now, what have you done for HPQ, except whine?

      HPQ Long

      • 4 Replies to shbrom
      • Shbrom writes:

        "Sure...she beat the pants off an anti-merger coalition of WH+other family interests and whiny employees (who would be denied their sinecure in a company that would have to enter the real world) and pointed the company into the future. She won that battle and is now executing a plan that is receiving generally favorable review in the financial press."

        If pushing the merger through is the only success that you can name, you haven't made much of a case, Shbrom. Pushing the merger through was clearly a personal victory for Carly, but only time will tell if this one success is indeed a success for shareholders and employees. A 'generally favorable review' in the financial press is not a convincing measure of success, especially considering the money that HP is currently pumping into many of these publications.

        It is interesting to note that while Carly achieved her personal victory in pushing the merger through, she made several ethically questionable moves along the way. This should be particularly troubling for those employees who recently took the internal Standards of Business Conduct (SBC) training. In that training, employees were continually told that one needs to be honest in all dealings, one cannot badmouth competitors, HP's reputation is extremely valuable, etc. The training also emphasized that even the appearance of impropriety is to be avoided. And while taking this training, how many recalled the actions of Carly and her executive management team during the merger fight:

        - Walter Hewlett being labelled 'an academic and a musician'.
        - HP management saying that a majority of pre-merger HP employees favored the merger, basing these statements on a bogus 'employee pulse' taken without anonmymity from a group of hand-selected employees who had just heard Carly give a talk about the benefits of the merger.
        - Saying that Walter Hewlett's financial 'motivations may be different from your own', when in fact it was Carly's motivations that should have been in question.
        - Lying about the planned executive compensation for Carly and Michael post-merger.
        - The Deutch Bank fiasco, where Carly told Bob Wayman in a phone message that we must do something 'extrordinary'. This followed by a last minute vote change from 'NO' to 'YES' by DB.
        - The post-merger trial statement that layoffs would be around 13,000 employees when Carly knew full well that the number would be much higher.

        And I'm sure I've missed a few here that others are invited to add.

        The SBC training concluded by encouraging employees to let their management know of anyone who has violated the standards. What isn't clear is how one would go about reporting Carly for her numerous violations.

        Colonel Buck

      • As he speaks of success, he means to refer to success that results in the joy and benefit of others, for example, shareholder value. In other words, an executive is only successful when others benefit, otherwise, it's merely the successful bilking of shareholder value and employee well-being for personal gain.

      • I bet 6 months or a year after CPQ bought DEC that was also receiving "generally favorable review in the financial press." Did not work out all that well...PK.

      • <<< "Can anyone point to one lasting business success that Carly has ever had,..."

        Sure...she beat the pants off an anti-merger coalition of WH+other family interests and whiny employees (who would be denied their sinecure in a company that would have to enter the real world) and pointed the company into the future. She won that battle and is now executing a plan that is receiving generally favorable review in the financial press. >>>

        You too seem to misunderstand my definition of "business success". To me, that means a lasting addition to the per-share bottom line. Carly has not done that. Defeating the Hewletts and taking over the company via a proxy fight is not a proven "business success" for the shareholders. Yes it was a success for Carly personally, and I acknowledge over and over again that she does great favors for herself. But grabbing goodies for herself is not the same as adding to the riches of the shareholders. Face it, the merger was about Carly keeping her CEO job, not about making the shareholders rich. HP stock was about $25/share when the merger was announced, look where it is now. That's a "success"?

        As to the positive PR Carly "buys" for herself (with the shareholder's money), that's a joke. Look how much HP spends advertising in Forbes, including a lot spent merely advertising the merger to shareholders. Forbes is thankful for that, and rewards Carly, hoping of course for more business from her. Fortune has fawned all over from Carly even in her Lucent days ("Most powerful woman in business" while at Lucent, as well as while at HP; of course that doesn't mean, "woman who helped her company the most"), Fortune won't admit they highlighted a self-serving incompetent. Again to Forbes, their publisher (Rich Karlgaard) fawned all over Carly after she visited him personally to promote her merger. Karlgaard even described what Carly wore to his office and how she looked (pretty bizarre comments by him, if you asked me). I guess Karlgaard fell in love with her, or she hypnotized him or something. He then wrote an endorsement of the proposed merger (the vote had not yet been held) titled "Vote Carly". It was weird, it was odd, it was creepy. But given that occurrence, it's not surprising that Forbes would run a ridiculous puff piece on Carly's "success" at HP. When HPQ earns $2/share, GAAP, fully taxed, and HP stock is above $60/share, then I'll say she was a "success" for the shareholders. Why such high standards? Because HP was already very close to those goals before Carly was hired as CEO. But don't hold your breath. Thanks to Carly's recklessness, I doubt HPQ will ever see $25 again, or even $1/share in GAAP, audited, fully taxed earnings. I'm still expecting $5/share before the end of 2004, if Carly remains CEO. Good luck.

    • Great Post Alex...

      _____________________________________________
      You've got to realize that Carly sees being a CEO as a "performance", as in an act - she's said so herself (used that exact word: performance). So she seemingly "acts" like she knows what she's talking about, as part of that "performance". I don't buy into her "act". Just my opinions.
      ________________________________________

      The simple way of describing this is that CF is "marketing" herself just as the inane "invent" is meant to market PCs. What you have is a very sophisticated used car saleswoman.

      Remember John Akers CEO of IBM in the 80s? He rose through the ranks as a SALESMAN, became CEO, and almost destroyed the company. Then the IBM board went out and got an businessman named Gerstner who looks at profits and finances and the bottom line to do what he could to clean the place up- meaning look at everything they sell and see if it is important and profitable.

      The result? He slowly but surely reduced big blue's dependence on the hopeless PC business and started the shift to services in the mid 90's.

      Meanwhile the new compaq's marketing wizardess believes she can turn a shit business like selling PCs into caviar just by branding and bullshit. Ain't gonna work. PK.

      • 1 Reply to pin_kopf
      • John Akers "He rose through the ranks as a SALESMAN, became CEO,
        and almost destroyed the company. Then the IBM board went out and got an businessman named Gerstner
        who looks at profits and finances and the bottom line to do what he could to clean the place up- meaning look
        at everything they sell and see if it is important and profitable."

        I agree with two of your points here. Akers nearly did destroy the company. Not because he was a salesman by training, but because he refused to adapt to a changing marketplace where competition was going to eat IBM's lunch but culture caused paralysis. Sound familiar?

        I also agree that Lou Gerstner's arrival presaged a dynamic decade for IBM, including recovery from its near-death experience. Breaking down the existing corporate culture, firing superfluous staff and those opposed to making the changes that were necessary, and changing the business direction of the company (in fact changing its basic business). I wathced it happen...I was a shareholder during that period and still am.

        The analogy also extends to the fact that both Lou and Carly were called in by the heirs of the founding families (Watson and H&P, respectively) who finally recognized a problem existed yet couldn't solve it within the existing culture.

        To be fair, I think that you are mischaracterizing CF's proposed direction for HPQ, which is laid out pretty well in the merger plan, in subsequent statements, and in her action to secure huge services contracts with private and government entities.

        I guess you don't agree, despite that excellent paragraph of yours, that Gerstner was to IBM what CF is to HWP (now HPQ). I might add that the analogy also extends to employee (and some shareholder) reaction to the changes introduced by each CEO.

        HPQ Long

    • As always, good post, Alex. Good to see you visit, as you invariably bring with you the ring of truth.

    • Wonderful reference to Chauncey Gardner.

    • Whoops, when I wrote:

      <<< Even at AT&T, she evidently didn't start moving up career-wise until she caught the eye (romantically) of HP's highly placed executive Frank Fiorina>>>

      I meant of course AT&T's Frank Fiorina, not HP's. Sorry about that. Again, just my opinions, as is my opinion that HPQ stock will go to $5 before the end of 2004. And sadly for me, I have yet to take a short position or buy put options, so there's no particular benefit to my seeing the stock go down at this point.

 
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